So lets talk natural or wild fermentation.
Wild fermentation is a way of incorporating the wild into your body, becoming one with the natural world. Wild foods, microbial cultures included, possess a great, unmediated life force, which can help us adapt to shifting conditions and lower our susceptibility to disease. These microorganisms are everywhere, and the techniques for fermenting with them are simple and flexible.
So its all about using natural yeasts (like on fruits and vegies) or in products like cultures (like whey).
Now it was only after some research into wild fermentation via pinterest that i found a recipe for kimchi. I have to say the whole thing seemed intimidating… i had no interest in sauerkraut so wasnt this the same thing?. It was only after getting some excess ingredients that had been bought for kimchi that i decided to give it a go.
So What is Kimchi?
Kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation, the same process that creates sauerkraut and traditional dill pickles. In the first stage, the cabbage is soaked in a salty brine that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria (the good guys!) convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them that wonderful, tangy flavor.
Now there are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes for kimchi out there. I have found this one to be pretty tasty. Miss A (who is 3) is quite the fan as well! It warms my heart when she points at the fermenting kimchi on the shelf and asked “i have kimchi?” and then contentedly pulls bits out of the jar and munches away on them. So I can say this recipe is Miss A approved! Use this recipe as a starter for your own (or your families tastes, a word of caution though… too much garlic can make the kimchi bitter, and too much ginger can make it sticky. So lets get to the good part! The recipe!!
How to Make Cabbage Kimchi
What You Need
1 medium head (about a kilo) napa cabbage Handful shredded carrot
1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt (see Recipe Notes)
Water (see Recipe Notes)
1 tablespoon grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons seafood flavor or water (optional, and i use fish sauce)
1 to 5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes(i use chilli flakes)
200g daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks (or you can use 5 – 6 red radishes)
4 green onions , trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Cutting board and knife
Gloves (optional but highly recommended)
Plate and something to weigh the kimchi down, like a jar or can of beans
Clean 1L jar with canning lid or plastic lid
Bowl or plate to place under jar during fermentation
- Slice the cabbage: Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips.
- Salt the cabbage: Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands (gloves optional), massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
- Rinse and drain the cabbage: Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside to use in step 5.
- Make the paste: Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavor (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the chilli, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy (I like about 1 tablespoon but I’m a wuss).
- Combine the vegetables and paste: Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the carrot, radish, green onions, and seasoning paste.
- Mix thoroughly: Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains, and smells!
- Pack the kimchi into the jar: Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace. Seal the jar with the lid.
- Let it ferment: Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.
- Check it daily and refrigerate when ready: Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two.
- Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
- Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can.
- Seafood flavor and vegetarian alternatives: Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavor. Different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters, and other seafood. Use about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, or a combination of the two..